Joliet, IL

The Old Joliet Women's Prison, long since abandoned, will become a haunted house attraction this fall

Jennifer Geer

Built in 1896, and located across the street from the main facility, the Old Women's Prison in Joliet will need major rehab before opening to the public this September.

It was supposed to be ready in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the opening was delayed. But plans are moving forward now.

This Halloween season, thrill-seekers and haunted house enthusiasts in Chicagoland can get their rush at the site of an old abandoned women's prison in Joliet.

Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group announced the opening of the Old Joliet Haunted Prison this September in the rundown building across the street from the Old Joliet Prison.

The Old Joliet Prison

Joliet, located about 40 miles southwest of Chicago, is known for its iconic prison building, made famous in many movies and TV shows, most notably, The Blues Brothers.
Old Joliet Prison(Pom'/

Erected in 1858, it housed prisoners until its closing in 2002. And there it sat for decades, falling into disrepair until the city of Joliet took control of the property. The main building is managed by the Joliet Historical Museum and is open to the public for tours.

And right across the street from the main building sits the site of the Old Women's Prison at 401 Woodruff Road.

401 Woodruff Road

Female prisoners were originally housed in the same building as the men. In 1896, a one hundred cellblock facility was constructed across the street from the main prison. It was designed to be a replica on a much smaller scale of the larger building.

From 1896 to 1933, it housed female inmates. In 1933 the female prisoners were moved to the Oakdale Women's Reformatory, and 401 Woodruff Road was used to hold male prisoners.

But when the prison closed in 2002, the building was abandoned. And when the city of Joliet worked to preserve the main building, the former women's site sat empty.

Are the prison buildings haunted?

The organizers of The Old Joliet Haunted Prison would like us to think so.

"Many have claimed to have seen visions of the spirits who have never left, or heard the screams of the trapped and tortured souls within. Are the walls of this abandoned prison actually keeping us out, or keeping them in?"

If you believe in such things, it's certainly a location that would be likely to be haunted. We know the men's prison was a desperate place, a crowded facility running rampant with disease and not even getting running water or toilets in the cells until 1910.

Its dark history includes executions conducted onsite and deadly disease outbreaks due to unsanitary conditions and overcrowding.

Win a key to the prison

No longer an abandoned building, 13th Floor Entertainment is turning the grounds and the interior of the former women's prison into a haunted house attraction set to open on September 18, 2021.

Presale tickets are already available online, and organizers have announced a giveaway of five keys to the prison gates that allow winners a lifetime pass to the attraction.

The winners will be announced on August 17th, so don't delay if you're interested in signing up.

Ever wanted to work in a haunted house attraction?

Organizers are currently hiring for various positions. You can find details on their website.

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Jennifer covers lifestyle content and local news for the Chicago area. New articles published each weekday.

Chicago, IL

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